Guide for All Master’s in Cyber Security Degrees
Masters in Cybersecurity programs include curricula that teach specialized aspects of Cyber Security, from prevention and detection of threats to recovery and forensic investigation. Students also develop evidence collecting strategies to help find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
When considering specialized opportunities in network security architecture and executive positions in information technology, graduate level education is either preferred or recommended by employers. Gaining a Master's degree provides advanced topics in analyzing these systems, and better prepares individuals when creating applications for security solutions or working in an enterprise.
CAE designated institutions from the DHS and NSA
Graduate programs in cybersecurity should have verification through an accredited source. One of the most popular designations is the National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE), which is awarded to institutions that meet specific criteria in advancing security measures and innovation within an organization's information systems. This is a joint effort between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA).
Quick overview of the graduate program
Master of Cyber Security degree programs generally take about a few years to complete, and have multiple prerequisite requirements for entry. Nearly all students entering this program (or any graduate program) are typically required to already have a Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security, Computer Science, or a related field.
Are There Online Master of Cyber Security Programs?
The short answer is "yes". Making it even easier to earn a Cyber Security master degree is the fact that many schools offer this program online. Online learning makes it easy and convenient for an individual to earn the degree while continuing to work.
University of West Florida
|Master||Online Cybersecurity, M.S.||Website|
Fairleigh Dickinson University
|Master||Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security||Website|
University of Delaware
|Master||Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity||Website|
Saint Joseph's University
|Master||MS in Business Intelligence & Analytics - Cyber Analytics||Website|
|Master||Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis||Website|
Consider these facts about taking an online degree
- Online cybersecurity programs are flexible and convenient: In most cases, courses are 100% online and can be completed from home at the student's convenience. Students learn through various methods including video lectures, MP3 lectures, e-mail, chat rooms and discussion boards.
- Consider the length of the program: Although online programs do let the students work at their own pace, many programs do have a time requirement in which the program must be completed.
- Online Master of Cyber Security is more common: Numerous graduate-level education programs exist online for students that are looking at obtaining a Master's degree in cybersecurity. Having the option for a virtual experience in higher education opens the door to professionals that do not have the capability to study at a physical location due to their working situation or needing to meet other life obligations.
- More on Graduate Degrees: Master's degrees are more accessible through an online format due to the average length of time it takes to complete the program.
- Full time studying options: Full-time students can usually complete the degree within two years, though this would be difficult for individuals that are working while studying.
- There are part time options too: Many programs will offer part-time study that can be extended over a span of multiple years, and they usually limit students on the amount of years available.
What to Expect with Online Programs
In many situations, format and curriculum requirements for the online Master's degree will mimic the traditional format available on-campus. Students will study within a cohort and must meet assignment and examination deadlines. While not available at all institutions, there may be a possibility to pursue a hybrid variation of these formats, completing some courses on campus and others conveniently online.
There are some potential limitations for online graduate programs. Some institutions will limit student availability to within the state they are located or in the region. There may also be on-campus residencies that will focus on online preparation, give students and faculty members a chance to meet in person, or complete a capstone project.
If a program designates that it can be completed 100 percent online, all required courses in the curriculum can be taken away from a campus location. Course availability may be different as some electives are offered at different times of the year or are exclusive to the on-campus format. However, these concentrations or electives are not integral to completing the degree.
Technical Requirements for Online Programs
Prospective students must review what hardware and software requirements are needed in order to successfully make it through the program. They must have a modern computer and access to fast internet speeds in order to stream or download lectures on demand and access course materials through the learning management system. Broadband access, along with a Windows or Mac operating system, is generally required.
When studying cybersecurity topics, a variety of software tools may be needed to complete assignments or lab sessions. Common applications include a compatible web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and processing documents and spreadsheets with Microsoft Office. While some coursework may be reviewed or completed on a mobile device, it is recommended or required to have a full computer system in many online programs.
Options for Online Masters in Cyber Security Programs
The Online Master's in Cyber Security degree is one of the most popular online programs in the area, and for good reason. Not only is the cybersecurity space growing, but the proliferation of online programs is also growing. Online Master's degrees in particular tend to be excellent options for those already holding a Bachelor's degree while being employed. The flexibility of online programs allow you to work on your time, at any time of day (or night).
There are two major differences or advantages for those in a Master's in Cyber Security degree program.
- Unlike associate and bachelor degree programs, graduate programs do not require general education courses like math, English, etc. because these courses were most likely completed at the undergraduate level.
- In addition, internships are usually required as part of undergraduate programs. The graduate program curriculum is dedicated to specialized Cyber Security coursework.
Find Online Masters in Cyber Security Degrees: Based on NSA CAE Designated Institutions
|Master||MBA - Cyber Policy||Website|
|Master||MBA - Cybersecurity||Website|
|Master||MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management||Website|
|Master||MS in Data Science - Financial Crime||Website|
|Master||MS in Computer Science - Cyber Security||Website|
Masters in Cyber Security Programs
Best Online Master's Degrees for Cyber Security?
University of Southern California MS in Cyber Security Engineering
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering offers the Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering, which can be fully completed online or pursued on campus. Both formats are similar and allows for students to have a blend of both formats if desired. Students can finish the program between one and a half and three and a half years depending on type of enrollment.
What you would study at USC
When pursuing this degree, students will gain competency in understanding complex networking operations and being able and preparing for further studies with a doctorate program if desired. The curriculum allows for real-world scenarios completed by students in order to apply their academics to their future career. Examples of careers graduates seek after this degree include software development, network administration, and computer engineering.
Required courses include the following: Computer Systems Assurance, Foundations and Policy for Information Security, Security and Privacy, and Security Systems. At least two courses are needed among the topics of cryptography, forensics, administration, and system design. Students must complete at least 28 credit hours with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher to graduate from the program.
Students can enter into the program during the fall semester. Admission materials needed for this program include official transcripts showing completion of a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, GRE scores from the last five years, updated resume, and a personal statement detailing career goals. Letters of recommendation are optional for this application process.
University of New Mexico MS Information Systems and Assurance
The Anderson School of Management at New Mexico offers the Master of Science in Information Systems and Assurance with multiple concentrations to customize the program. Security-focused concepts include pursuing Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, or System and Network Administration and Security. On average, graduates are able to enter a career with an average annual salary of $102,100.
All students will take a total of 11 courses, which equates to 33 credit hours regardless of concentration selection. The curriculum is customizable, giving students the ability to select courses that fit the type of information technology job they desire. Examples of courses that students may take within the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance concentration includes Data Analytics, Advanced Systems and Network Administration, Digital Forensics, and Information Assurance Policy.
Resources available through the college include being part of student-led organizations, such as the Information Security Management and Analytics Research Team (ISMART). This enhances specific skills in analytics and improving the security of system administration, and improves networking with other professionals to improve job opportunities.
There is an ability to apply for the Scholarship for Service (SFS) award if a student is looking to a government position within cybersecurity, along with various other scholarships distributed by the Anderson School of Management. For SFS, the award pays all tuition and travel fees, reimburses health insurance costs, and provides a $2,800 stipend per month.
Quinnipiac University Master of Science in Cyber Security
The School of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Cyber Security that is available completely online and prepares students to detect unauthorized activity within an information system. Asynchronous coursework provides the flexibility needed for students to study on their own time along with completing assignments and examinations with a cohort.
What you would study
30 total credit hours are needed to complete the program, which includes topics such as relational and nonrelational database security, cryptography, web application security and design, and secure automation. There are a number of specialty courses that prepare individuals for a wide range of careers in cybersecurity, such as developing the network security around the information system itself or within applications.
To get into the program, students should submit an application with fee, personal statement describing why they have chosen to pursue this degree at the university, updated resume that designates some work experience, and official transcripts from other institutions. If a student holds GMAT or GRE scores, they can submit those for consideration, but they are not required in the process.
There is a dual degree option
The college provides an opportunity to dual-degree with the Bachelor of Arts or Science in Cybersecurity and a Master's degree in the same discipline within five years. Core courses in the Master's degree blend with the major of the undergraduate program and meets criteria for the CAE in Cyber Defense education. The program culminates with a capstone project where students will demonstrate their competency in cybersecurity topics.
New York University Master of Science in Cybersecurity
The Tandon School of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity that can be fully completed online. At least 30 credit hours are required to complete the program, and there is an optional final course that is a research project or Master's thesis for students looking to enter further education. All courses have met standards set by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS).
Typical classes and credits
Curriculum requirements are split up into three different segments: computer science, security, and electives. 21 total credit hours are for the first two subjects, and the former category has courses that can be swapped for others if students already have credit for them. This means nine credit hours are reserved for electives that can further customize the program.
Students have the capability to explore CAE-designated Cyber Operations courses within the program, including the following: Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Applied Cryptography, and Mobile Security. A summer internship program is also available for students to experience in-depth concepts and apply their problem-solving skills to real-world situations.
Scholarships for online NYU students
Online students have the opportunity to pursue the NYU Cyber Fellows program, which offers a scholarship covering three-fourths of the tuition rate for the Master's degree program. This is a unique format that provides virtual laboratory sessions, multiple speaker sessions, and access to updated course material for up to five years after graduation. Exclusive for part-time enrollment, this can be completed in two to three years.
Virginia Tech University Master of Information Technology with Cybersecurity Concentration
The Pamplin College of Business offers an online Master of Information Technology, which includes a concentration in Cybersecurity. After the completion of this program, students can identify specific security systems and be able to identify any weaknesses in the process. They should also have competence in the variety of attacks that can occur within their systems, and the ongoing push of mobile integration.
Some online courses you may take
Specific courses in the Cybersecurity concentration include Fundamentals of Computer Systems, and two levels of Information Technology Security and Trust. Students must have programming knowledge in Java or C-based programming prior to entering the fundamentals course, which is offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The first and second IT security courses are only offered in the fall and spring, respectively.
This program can be completed in a span of two years with students taking two courses in the fall, spring, and summer terms. While this holds true for many concentrations that can be considered for this program, students must be aware of potential prerequisites in order to get into specific courses.
Considering a dual degree in DC
Students can opt to pursue a dual-degree with the Master of Business Administration for students located in the Washington DC metro area. There are also graduate certifications to consider that can transfer over into the MIT program at a later period. Related certifications include Cybersecurity Management, Cybersecurity Policy, and Cybersecurity Technologies.
Southern Methodist University Master's degree in Cybersecurity
The Lyle School of Engineering has a Master's degree in cybersecurity that can be completed within a span of two years. Students can gain a specialized education in computer and network security topics for a booming job field that is growing rapidly. There are three different start dates throughout the year in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
30 total credit hours are needed to complete the curriculum requirements. Examples of courses that students may take in the program include Software Testing and Quality Assurance, Hardware Security and Trojan Detection, and Computer Systems Security. Online courses will require 16 hours per week of studying, and this equates to two classes that students should take per semester.
Online education is operated on the Canvas learning management system, which offers full computer desktop compatibility on the Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Students also have the opportunity to access course materials on their mobile devices with the iOS or Android operating system. Many courses will have live meetings between students and faculty members through the online platform.
To be accepted into the Master's degree program, applicants must show completion of a Bachelor's degree in a related discipline, such as computer science, engineering, or mathematics. Individuals should have at least two years of work experience within IT, be able to submit GRE scores for consideration, and must have completed at least one year of calculus at the college level.
DePaul University Master of Science in Cybersecurity
In the College of Computing and Digital Media, students can choose to complete the Master of Science in Cybersecurity. Here are different concentrations to consider: Computer Security; Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance; and Networking and Infrastructure. This program is fully available online and the university has been designated as a CAE with this program.
Online features in this program include being able to stream or download lectures on-demand through the Course Online System. This learning management platform uploads courses automatically from the on-campus lecture within two hours after the completion of the lecture. An online proctoring service is used to verify that students are completing exams properly.
DePaul's CDM Security Lab
Unique student features at this university include hands-on lab experiments with the CDM Security Lab. This resource utilizes Cisco hardware and gives students the capability to work with different network systems and firewalls. There is also the student-based club, Security Daemons, which gives students the capability to work with others and have a chance to join or compete at cybersecurity competitions and conventions.
To get into the Master's degree program, prospective students must submit official transcripts from their higher education experience, which must include a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Optional submission items include letters of recommendation and professional experience from an information technology or information assurance position.
The Citadel Military College of South Carolina Master of Intelligence and Security Studies
A Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies can be earned completely online through the Department of Intelligence and Security Studies. Students can select from two concentrations: Cybersecurity or Leadership. The Cybersecurity focus helps students gain an understanding in security measures with operating systems and networks, and ethical and legal aspects of privacy.
Examples of courses that students take in this program include Advanced Topics in Database System, which gives further in-depth analysis on how to maintain and operate database systems to store and manipulate various sources of data. Data Communications and Networking goes into depth with internet protocol suites, relationships between the client and server communications, and security within the network.
In order to be considered for this program, applicants should submit official transcripts that show completion of their undergraduate degree, two letters of recommendation, GMAT or GRE scores, and a writing sample that showcases writing and communication skills. Students already holding a graduate degree do not have to send letters of recommendation.
Another option is pursuing the Cybersecurity specialization through the Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences. Verified by the NSA, this program helps students gain the technical skills necessary for digital forensics and developing policy and procedure to avoid unauthorized intrusions in network systems. This program is in collaboration with the College of Charleston and is not available online.
Why Should You Choose Cyber Security As a Career?
With government hacks and security breaches in some of our largest industries, Cyber Security is a growing concern and also a great career choice. Earning a master degree in cybersecurity can give students the edge and make them an asset to potential employers. Continue reading and get the facts about earning a Master's in Cyber Security and what it all entails.
Coursework to Expect for a MS in Cyber Security Degree
Cyber Security students will see courses like cyberspace and Cyber Security; cyber crime investigation and digital forensics; risk management; threat analysis; and disaster recovery. Students learn all aspects of computer safety including not only identifying potential cyber threats but preventing them from entering the network and implementing safety measures for the future.
Cryptography, Network Security, and More
Other courses a Cyber Security student might take are cryptography, network security, computer networking, digital forensics and ethical hacking. Most master degree programs also require the student to complete a capstone course, which is either a project or written report based on research.
Look for Admissions Requirements
Although this may vary by school, graduate programs also have specific admission requirements that must be met prior to enrollment. These may include bachelor's degree in computer science, letters of recommendation, proof of completed prerequisite courses, transcripts, statement of purpose and a satisfactory GPA.
Typical Coursework for a Master’s Degree
|Course Name||Course Description|
Introduction to Information Security
|An introductory course explores many concepts the student is about to study in the discipline selected. This presents an overview of the field and what to expect in preparation of a long-term career in protecting data and making the process more efficient and effective. These types of courses are usually found in the direct disciplines of cybersecurity and information assurance.|
Communications and Networking
|These courses focus on the comprehensive relationship between the client and server within the network. Devices must have a clear and secure connection with servers in order to store and quickly retain information. Additional topics may include how to speed up processes with different communication methods and network setups, troubleshooting with various applications, and internet protocol suites.|
Advanced Cyber Security
|Within the core curriculum, students will likely have courses that explore more advanced subjects within the field of cybersecurity. This may include management procedures when implementing new policies or solutions within an existing security system. Other topics could feature efforts to maintain and restore backup information in data recovery, and utilize risk assessment to determine what upgrades to consider.|
Mobile and Cloud-Based Security
|These are relatively new concepts that are in high demand for cybersecurity positions. Individuals are constantly relying on mobile technology and cloud-based storage solutions to enhance their personal lives and work capability. With an abundance of sensitive information moving across networks, it is important for this data to stay protected with various security protocols to lower risk.|
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
|For students studying security concepts within data science, these are advanced topics that look into how algorithms attempt to recreate human decisions. As this technology grows from digital assistance to advancing the way people drive, it is extremely important that this data is not manipulated from outside intrusions or compromised in any way.|
|Also known as penetration testing, being able to detect vulnerability within an operating system or network system is key to minimizing data breaches or unauthorized access from individuals. These activities are completed in a controlled environment and provide real-time data that analysts can use to improve security policies and procedures at an organization.|
|One of the top procedures to protect sensitive information that moves across networks is cryptography. Everybody uses cryptography on a daily basis, from typing in a web site URL to making a purchase and transaction with a debit or credit card. Cryptography is the process of taking this valuable data and creating a defense measure that cannot be broken into if obtained by an unauthorized party.|
Ethical and Legal Issues
|An important subject that cannot be overlooked, students that are looking at managerial or executive positions will need to understand the policies that the federal government and their own organization have put in place. These may include standards that have been set to keep information systems secure, or understanding what takes place when data breaches occur and sensitive data becomes vulnerable.|
|Students will understand the theory and practice of implementing security measures within applications to protect information stored within the program and prevent unauthorized access. These skills provide a way for students to identify vulnerabilities when reviewing software code and processes, and determine what type of security can be used when developing software.|
|It is important for the tools that are being used by an organization that access or store important information are not compromised by hackers. Students can learn the differences in counterfeit and malfunctioning hardware that can allow for intrusion, and different attack methods that can infect an information system. Some specialized topics, like computer forensics, may also be explored.|
What Are the Steps to Getting a Graduate Degree in Cyber Security?
Pursuing a Master’s degree in cybersecurity will require around one to two years of studying at an institution or through a convenient online program. This depends on the type of enrollment, with part-time students needing three or four years to typically complete the program. A frequent option for online students is picking part-time study to coincide with their professional career.
Students have the option to consider programs with a discipline directly in cybersecurity or information assurance. As an alternative, cybersecurity courses can be chosen as a concentration or elective within a different discipline, such as computer science, business administration, or health informatics.
The curriculum format can vary widely based on the program selected for the Master’s degree, along with the discipline. Around 30 credit hours is the common amount needed to fulfill degree requirements, which equates to 15 credit hours or so in each academic year. Frequently, the core curriculum and the electives can be divided in half, or the core subject matter slightly requires more credit hours.
Maintaining high marks on academics is required to graduate from the Master’s degree program. Typically, universities will require students to maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA throughout their education. Only a few courses are permitted to have a C grade, and in many cases, receiving a grade below that threshold results in academic probation or immediate dismissal from the program.
Typical Admission Requirements
In order to be administered into a Master’s degree program in cybersecurity and information assurance, typical requirements suggest that students must have completed a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They must have maintained high academic merit with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher, or at least gain consideration for restricted admittance and maintain high grades early on to continue further into the program.
A Bachelor’s degree should have some focus on computer systems, information technology, cybersecurity, and other related disciplines. Prerequisites that are needed in some cybersecurity Master’s degrees can be satisfied by declaring a major or minor in a similar discipline. Any prerequisites that must be completed while studying a graduate program do not count toward the credit hours required to finish the Master’s degree.
What is Submitted in the Application Process?
Documentation that is typically submitted for application review includes official or unofficial transcripts that show the completion of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent undergraduate program. Any courses that are required prior to entering the program should be identified on these transcripts, along with an overall GPA or one focused on the major.
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are frequently required in the admission process. Applicants will submit these scores, which must met criteria set by the institution. If scores are not required by the program, some schools will allow the submission of them if they can help boost the admission profile of a prospective student.
One to three letters of recommendation can be submitted to verify the competence of the applicant. These recommendations often allow prior academic professors and work supervisors to vouch for the student, but no individuals that are related to the student.
Personal essays may also be required or optional, which can either explain why the applicant is pursuing a degree at that particular university, or they may need to answer situational questions related to the discipline. Various document style requirements, and the amount of pages accepted, will vary based on the college.
Full-Time Versus Part-Time Enrollment for a Master’s Degree
Students have the option to complete the Master’s degree on a full-time or part-time basis when available through the college they attend. Either option presents their positives and negatives for the individual depending on their needs. For example, part-time enrollment allows for the continuation of full-time employment, but there may be restrictions on student loan availability.
Colleges generally consider students taking 12 or more credit hours in one semester as full-time enrollment at the undergraduate level, but this changes with advanced education with a Master’s degree. Students should maintain nine or more credit hours in each traditional term for full-time status, such as the fall or spring semester. This adjusts for online programs that have different term structures.
Pursuing a degree on a full-term basis generally allows the student to complete the Master’s degree within a two-year time span, sometimes taking just one total year if terms are taken one immediately after the other. While significant time commitment is required for studies with the advanced topics covered, this is the quickest way to receive this type of education when needed.
Especially when pursuing a graduate-level program online, students will generally opt for part-time enrollment. This provides the flexibility to take one or two courses within a term, giving students the option to pursue other opportunities outside of their education. Students with semesters that have less than nine credit hours are usually considered part time.
In addition to flexibility, students have the ability to focus on a particular subject instead of tackling multiple courses at one time. This can be easier for a student to take shorter course modules, but quickly accelerate through the content prior to moving on to another cybersecurity subject.
While federal student loans may not be available through this enrollment status, there are other options to consider. For example, students that are currently working professionals may be able to get their education paid for by the employer. This can be considered if the employee is going to staying long term at the organization and they are looking at advanced opportunities.
A Note on Cyber Security and Other IT / Com Sci Related Degrees
Cyber Security Master degrees may not always be titled as such. Some schools offer a Master in Strategic Cyber Operations and Information Management program. Cyber Security programs may also be titled as network security programs.
Specific Concentrations within the Master’s in Cyber Security Program
Because Cyber Security is such a vast field, many Cyber Security programs also offer areas of concentration such as intelligence, computer forensics, cyber operations or information assurance. These concentrations allow the student to focus on a specific area of Cyber Security.
For instance, the computer forensics track focuses on collecting evidence of cyber crimes so that the criminal can be taken to court. Information assurance focuses on ensuring data is secure and safe from outside access while cyber operations focuses on protecting the network and computer from cyber invasions.
Students taking the intelligence track learn to gather information to determine who and what are threats to the system. Cyber Security can also be used as a concentration in other computer-related program, such as a Master of Criminal Justice with a concentration in cyber crime investigation and Cyber Security program.
Career Outlook for Those with a Master’s in Cyber Security
Graduates of Cyber Security master degree programs generally have a wide variety of career options open to them upon graduation. These may include network and computer systems administrator, information security analyst, computer and information systems manager or information technology security architect. Both wages and employment outlook are very good for this field.
Tuition Costs for a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security
A Master’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance will open up the door to higher-paying opportunities within information technology. However, this investment into the future may require financial aid or personal loans for many that are unable to pay for tuition up front themselves. There are many ways to lower these costs, including undergraduate options, transfer credit, and studying locally.
Tuition varies based on the university selected, where the student lives, and what type of format they will use in their education process. As an example, the University of Arizona has an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity that costs $1,332 per credit hour, and it requires 33 credit hours to graduate. This makes the total program just under $44,000, which does not include additional student fees.
On average, students can expect to spend $20,000 to $80,000 on their full Master’s degree tuition. There are many ways to lower the costs of graduate-level education and pull it towards the lower end of the spectrum, such as choosing smaller, online-based institutions that are accredited, along with local opportunities.
How to Pay for a Master’s Degree
For the most part, students will end up resorting to federal student loans or private loans in order to fund their studies toward the Master’s degree. Full-time study does not require as many credit hours per term as an undergraduate program. Some online programs, and those looking to study on a part-time basis, may need to utilize other loan options or look at solutions presented by the institution.
When considering student loans, there are some limitations to consider for the graduate program. An amount that student is allotted for the academic year does carry over into additional terms, like a summer semester. That means if the student exhausts their federal aid during the traditional academic year, they will need to find other sources to pay the additional term.
At the Master’s degree level, employers may provide an opportunity for their workers to gain higher education by paying for their schooling. This helps the employer gain an employee in an advanced position that already has experience within their IT sector. In exchange, the worker likely needs to commit long term with the company, or they may have to pay back for their education if they choose another job shortly after graduation.
Some Bachelor’s degree may provide an opportunity for students that have exceled in the program to combine a Master’s degree with their current program with the same discipline. Many advanced courses in the undergraduate program overlap with core courses in the graduate program. By doing this, it can eliminate up to a year worth of studies for the Master’s degree and cuts back on costs.
Online programs can be offered at a cheaper tuition rate as students will not be able to utilize the same resources as those who study on campus. They may also waive out-of-state tuition for students that study online in a different state that the college is located in. Out-of-state tuition can boost education costs by double their normal amount on an annual basis.
Scholarship Options for a Master’s Degree
While higher education for cybersecurity can be expensive, another process of cutting costs is applying for scholarships or apprenticeships. Scholarships are sponsored awards that are distributed by the institution or organizations that are looking to boost employment within the cybersecurity field. Many scholarships have various restrictions based on location, level of higher education, and demographics.
At the graduate level, some colleges provide automatic entry into a scholarship for students that have high academic merit. There is no process that the student has to go through as their application process gives them the scholarship opportunity, and this is given to one or multiple students on an annual basis. For most scholarships, students will need to fill out forms and write essays explaining why they are a good fit for the award.
An apprenticeship is a similar process when it comes to rewarding students with tuition reduction, but this requires a commitment to further studies or helping faculty members on a part-time basis. In exchange for the student’s work, their education costs will be significantly reduced, or eliminated altogether, and they may receive a stipend for additional needs. Graduate apprenticeships, in addition to studies in advanced subjects, will not allow the student to work professionally on the side.
Examples of Cyber Security Scholarships
The Department of Defense offers multiple scholarships toward military and government service at the undergraduate and graduate level. The SMART Scholarship for Service program offers an opportunity for students to work at different military branches and provide the following: full tuition expenses paid, monthly stipends, and a summer internship that requires 8 to 12 weeks of work.
The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) offers up to two scholarships for female students that participate in the competition. These students must be enrolled in a degree at any level, including a Master’s degree, with a focus on cybersecurity or information assurance. A $10,000 award is used toward tuition and other related expenses, an exam voucher for any (ISC)^2 certification, and a potential internship opportunity with Raytheon Technologies.
Raytheon provides the scholarship opportunity to women for further boosting the demographic in the cybersecurity field. In addition to having attended the competition, students must be holding a cumulative 3.3 GPA, submit unofficial transcripts showing their progress, a letter of recommendation from an academic, resume, and statement of purpose explaining why this scholarship is needed and career goals.
What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security?
Completing the Master’s degree opens up a wide variety of different job opportunities for graduates, including more advanced positions when it comes to securing computer and network systems at an organization. These professionals have the tools and skillset necessary to develop and improve the framework of these systems in order to improve operations and maximize their effectiveness.
In addition to getting a better job opportunity, salary estimates also rise for professionals that hold a Master’s degree. Information security scientists and architects often see figures above the six-figure mark when gaining this education, and even more when working in the competitive locations of Washington DC and the states of Virginia, New York, California, Washington, and more.
For some professionals with a technical background, perhaps they would like to get into cybersecurity but do not have the proper education or direct work experience in the field. Getting a Master’s degree can provide an opportunity for these individuals to gain advanced knowledge in cybersecurity or focus their studies on a specialization, such as digital forensics or health informatics.
Preparation for Doctorate Degree
Advantages of a Master’s degree is not limited to improving job opportunity prospects in cybersecurity. Some programs offer an ability to write a thesis that may focus on a particular subject within the discipline to prepare for advanced studies at the doctorate level. This term paper will focus on a problem within the field or a theory and expand upon it, using what they have learned in the program to articulate these issues and showcase critical thinking capability.
The topic is often determined by the student and a proposal must be made to an academic advisor or faculty member that reviews thesis projects. Once approved, students will research their topic and complete the term paper shortly before their graduation date. This process is usually completed in the final few terms of the program and replaces the capstone project or comprehensive examination.
Computer and information research scientists have duties that include developing and improving upon various aspects of information technology, including the security of the systems that are utilized. They may be responsible in creating the applications used by employees to access network, or create algorithms used in gathering data from a variety of different sources. Specific to cybersecurity, they are involved in continuing to update processes and measures through innovation in the field.
Overall, the job market is only going to expand with how important big data has become and keeping networks secure through the transition to cloud-based computing and artificial intelligence capabilities. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs will grow by 15 percent between 2019-29. Many positions exist in the state of California and within government agencies in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.
On a national scale, these positions pay an estimated $127,460 for the mean annual wage. This jumps to $189,780 annually when looking at the top 10 percent, but can fall to $69,990 on the lower end. Low estimations tend to fall in locations with lower employment levels and cost of living expenses, which the highest figures can be found in states such as New York, Virginia, Texas, and along the West Coast.
Computer network architects, also known as system administrators or system engineers, hold advanced positions that help build networking solutions for any size of organization and helps them implement new innovations, such as cloud computing and machine learning. Duties include planning out solutions for companies that evolve or transition into a new system and determine what is needed and compatible in the upgrading process.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions specific to designing computer systems make an average of $115,430 annually. This average jumps when working in the insurance industry and being part of an enterprise. States that offer the highest salaries include Virginia, Rhode Island, and California, all with an annual mean wage of over $128,000.
One of the cybersecurity positions that often requires further education is being a cryptographer. This is one of the most important aspects of cybersecurity as they are creating the algorithms that protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. Even during a data breach, this information can only be unlocked and viewable with a specific keyset that hackers do not have access to, and it is possible to do this with various cryptography methods.